Hendrick’s Gin and the giant cucumber

Hendrick’s Gin celebrated the unusual at the Champagne Bar at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour on Thursday 21 March 2019.

Hendrick’s Gin and cucumbers make the perfect combination. The gin is actually made by infusing the essence of roses and cucumber and 11 botanicals from the four corners of the world.

It is not surprising then, that Hendrick’s Gin created an inflatable 40-metre-long, 8-metre-high and 25-metre-wide cucumber that would float around Sydney Harbour and promote the brand.

However, at a media event designed to celebrate this giant cucumber, Hendrick’s Gin announced that they have lost the giant cucumber while in transit to Sydney Harbour and whoever finds it gets a lifetime supply of Hendricks Gin and cucumbers.

To assist in the search they launched ‘Cucumber Currency’, a gin exchange platform in which consumers can swap a cucumber for a free gin and tonic on the weekend of the 24th to 25th of March 2019 down at participating venues in Darling Harbour.

Further, the iconic Green Park Hotel (at 360 Victoria Street Darlinghurst) have launched ‘Gin in the Park’ every Thursday, in partnership with Hendrick’s Gin. There will be interactive gin events, from masterclasses of the most educational nature, to oddly immersive experiences involving martinis, blindfolds and other secrets.

However, reports in the media state that the giant cucumber deflated soon after setting sail and sunk in Sydney Harbour.

For more information about Hendrick’s Gin, go to: www.hendricksgin.com

For more information about ‘Gin in the Park’, head to: www.greenparkhotel.com.au/gininthepark

Time Out 2019 Bar Awards

Time Out Sydney announced the winners of its 2019 Bar Awards at its 11th annual awards event held at the Oxford Art Factory on Sunday afternoon on 10 March 2019.

And the winners are:

Bar of the year – Old Mate’s Place

Best new bar – Old Mate’s Place

Best cocktail bar – Bulletin Place

Hot talent award – Sarah Mycock of PS40

Best wine bar – Wyno

Bartender of the year – Evan Stroeve from Bulletin Place

Best bar food – Love Tilly Devine

People choice award – Redfern Surf Club

Legend award – James Bradey and Warren Burns

Best beer bar – Odd Culture

Best bar team – Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern

Everyone celebrated afterwards to the beats by DJ Mowgli May and Rainbow Chan.

Throughout the night they were served food by fried-chicken experts Butter and drinks such as Kahlua Espresso Martinis on tap, Malibu Piña Coladas, Altos Tequila cocktails, beers, and a bespoke cocktail from Perrier. As if that wasn’t enough, they also got to sample Riot Wines’ wine in a can from McLaren Vale, Mismatch Brewing Co beers, and ciders from Hills Cider Co.

At the end of the night, everyone received a hot-off-the-presses copy of the new Bar Awards issue of Time Out Sydney.

For more information, go to: https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/bars/time-out-bar-awards-winners

Mr Black and Bar Swift at Charlie Parker’s

Coffee liqueur brand, Mr Black, and London’s Best New International Cocktail Bar, Bar Swift, joined forces at Sydney’s Charlie Parker’s, to showcase the future of coffee and cocktails on Wednesday February 13th.

Swift Bar’s Managing Director, Bobby Hiddleston, and Hamish Dowie, Winner of the 2018 Mr Black x Swift Bartender Competition, travelled to Sydney to curate a bespoke new menu of Mr Black and Bar Swift classic cocktails.

I hate coffee and until now I could never quite understand Sydney’s obsession with espresso martinis. From my perspective, it is just an unholy, unnecessary mix of coffee and vodka, however, I tasted most of the cocktails on this menu and they were quite incredible. The coffee is not too overpowering and the flavour and complexity of the drinks is quite amazing. I am converted!

One of my favourite drinks of the night, and unsurprisingly a bespoke award-winning cocktail, was Higher Ground — a smooth blend of Mr Black, Mr Black Amaro, orange bitters and coconut. It had a thick layer of cream on top and almost 90ml of liquor underneath. The drink was designed to be sipped through the cream, rather than mixed together.

Another crowd favourite was the classic Bar Swift cocktail, Sgroppino, which consisted of a delicious blend of prosecco and lemon sorbet.

All these drinks were consumed with popular items on Charlie Parker’s menu, including oysters, beef tartare, striploin beef crostini with ricotta and chimichurri, potato croquettes with smoked burrata and salsa brava, pork and veal meatballs with spicy tomato sauce and, my favourite, wood fired flatbread with mozzarella, greens and fennel.

Charlie Parker’s will be offering a selection of Mr Black and Bar Swift cocktails on their drink menu for a limited time only.

Charlie Parker’s is located at 380 Oxford Street, Paddington NSW 2021

For more information about Mr Black, go to: http://mrblack.co/

General Chao launches in Chatswood

Chatswood Interchange now has a new premium modern 187-seat Asian restaurant called General Chao.

General Chao is in the centre of an oblong-shaped space at the back of Chatswood Interchange’s upmarket food court, called District Dining.

In the kitchen, everything is made from scratch. They make the most decadent XO sauces with an array of flavour combinations from Eastern and Western cuisines. Their “Classic XO” sauce is made from dried shrimp, ginger, garlic and ham. Their “Super Premium Seafood XO” is made with abalone, clams, sea cucumber, quality dried scallop, ginger, garlic, dried shrimp and ham. And the outrageous “New Style Super Premium XO” is made from black truffles, Tasmanian abalone, premium dried scallop and shrimp, jamón and gold leaf.

The food is outstanding. Head chef Son Sewoo (The Sovereign Room) is turning out a menu of pan-Asian favourites using fresh Aussie produce. Expect to find Chinese, Thai, Singaporean and Japanese influences.

We tried the prawn toast, the jasmine tea smoked duck dumplings, the crispy pork crackling salad, the Singapore chilli blue swimmer crab, the master 24 hour braised pork belly and the banana wrapped in crispy egg noodles with ginger ice-cream. The Singaporean chilli crab was my favourite and only consisted of the legs (unlike in Singapore where you would get an entire crab covered in sauce).

The drink menu did not fail to impress either. The talented Michael Chiem of CBD bar PS40 has designed mocktails and cocktails that suit the menu.

So don’t be put off by its location in a food court above the train station. Ascend the escalators and head straight to the bar with huge blue mural of elegant Asian woman for a drink and a great meal in the seating area.

General Chao is located at District Dining, 436 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood.

It is open from 12pm–10pm Monday to Wednesday and Sunday, 12pm–11pm on Thursday and 12pm–12am on Friday and Saturday.

For more information, go to: generalchao.com

Johnnie Walker launches White Walker in Sydney

Johnnie Walker has teamed up with HBO and Game of Thrones to create a new Scotch whisky called White Walker, with the exclusive Sydney launch party at Bondi’s Icebergs Dining & Bar.

For those of you who are not familiar with Game of Thrones, a White Walker is an undead humanoid creature that is a supernatural threat to mankind and dwells north of “The Wall”.

This new whiskey, which is packaged to look like it comes straight from the frozen north, is a special blend of single-malt whiskies from Johnnie Walker’s north-most distilleries, Cardhu and Clynelish, and has an ABV of 41.7 percent. On the pallet, expect some vanilla notes, and a hint of fruity sweetness, from red berry to apple. The sweetness of this Scotch will definitely make it more accessible to newer whisky drinkers.

Unlike most scotch that are usually served best at room temperature, White Walker is designed to be served from the freezer, preferably in chilled glasses, at minus 15 degrees Celsius.

The bottle features temperature-sensitive thermochromic ink, which reveals a hidden message when chilled. Once the winter blue-grey-white bottle is chilled to under -1.5 degrees Celsius, the words “Winter Is Here” appear ominously.

Whisky tastings were held throughout the evening, hosted by National Johnnie Walker Ambassador Simon McGoram.

The recently-crowned ‘World’s Best Bartender’ Orlando Marzo (from Melbourne’s Lûmé restaurant) shared his recipe for his ‘Highgarden Fizz’, which combines White Walker with jasmine and strawberry syrup, yuzu soda and is topped with jasmine flowers.

Guests were served a number of whiskey cocktails and a canape style whisky-paired menu included Sydney rock oysters with fiery fermented Calabrian chili vinegar, a red wedding-style smoked red blood sausage by LPs Quality Meats, squid ink crackling evoking dragon skin, and slow cooked Wild Boar.

The event featured Game of Thrones-inspired blue coloured décor, including ice sculptures and candlelights. DJ Cassette kept the party going all night.

White Walker by Johnnie Walker is available across Australia at Dan Murphy’s and BWS and has an RRP of $65 for 700ml.

For more information about White Walker by Johnnie Walker, go to: https://www.johnniewalker.com/en-au/our-whisky/limited-edition-whiskies/white-walker-johnnie-walker/


Taste of Sydney Collective

Taste of Sydney has evolved into a new event called, Taste of Sydney Collective, fusing food, culture and music into a four-day festival to take place at a new location, Barangaroo at the Cutaway, from 8-11 November 2018.

The organisers of Taste of Sydney Collective have brought together the finest local, interstate and international chefs to create unique dishes exclusive to the four-day festival.

During the Taste of Sydney Collective festival there will be two ‘Collective Kitchens,’ where 32 chefs will pair up to create distinct dishes across six immersive sessions. Each day will feature new chefs, collaborations and bespoke dishes.

Some of the chefs from the Taste of Sydney Collective’s chef line-up will include:

  • Skye Gyngell – Spring (London)
  • Louis Tikaram – E.P.& L.P. (Los Angeles)
  • Clayton Wells – Automata
  • Hamish Ingham – Banksii
  • Cory Campbell – Bea Restaurant
  • Palisa Anderson – Boon Café & Chat Thai
  • Mat Lindsay – Ester
  • Ben Greeno – Hotel Centennial
  • Flavio Carnevale – MARTA
  • Nelly Robinson – nel.
  • Jesse McTavish – North Bondi Fish
  • Ben Sears and Eun Hee An – Paper Bird
  • Darren Robertson – Three Blue Ducks & Rocker

To get a taste of how good this event will be, we were invited to a program preview where we got to sample some of the dishes that will be featured during the festival. They included amazing dishes such as Mark Best’s bar cod, fish milk with fermented potatoes; Palisa Anderson’s aged beef chin green curry; and Brent Savage’s wattle parfait with macadamia, orange and chocolate.

The Taste of Sydney Collective will include the following session times:

Thursday 8th November | 17:30 – 22:00
Friday 9th November | 12:00 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00
Saturday 10th November | 12:00 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00
Sunday 11th November | 12:00 – 17:00

Ticket packages start from $25 and each session requires separate tickets. Tickets can be purchased from here.

For more information about Taste of Sydney Collective: go to: https://sydney.tastefestivals.com/about-taste/


Celebrating Global Champagne Day with Champagne Lanson

Global Champagne Day was on October 19, and I was invited to celebrate with a private dinner at Bel & Brio, and a champagne tasting with the chief winemaker of Champagne Lanson, Herve Dantan.

Champagne Lanson has been importing champagne to Australia since 1855. This is not unusual as Australia is the seventh largest champagne market in the world and the biggest outside Europe. Champagne Lanson has been making champagne since 1760 and is one of the oldest Champagne houses in France. In 1900, Queen Victoria granted Henri Marie Lanson the title of ‘Purveyor of Champagne to Her Majesty’ and the House has been the official supplier to the English court ever since.

Herve Dantan guided us through the tasting, explaining the history of champagne and Champagne Lanson, the champagne making process and the  difference between each bottle that we tasted.

Champagne Lanson has been making champagne using the traditional method of flavouring wines without malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation speeds up the wine’s aging process and gives it a stronger, less fruity flavour.  Furthermore, every Champagne Lanson bottle is aged for a minimum of three-and-a-half years, longer than most other champagne houses. As a result, champagne Lanson is fresher, crisper and more fruity.


As a welcome drink, we were served Lanson Black Label Brut NV (RRP $49.99) which consists of 50 percent pinot noir, 35 percent chardonnay and 15 percent pinot meunier. Most of Lanson’s champagnes contain these three grape varieties, but in different proportions. This champagne is perfect as an aperitif.

For the starter, we were served seared yellowfin tuna with tuna mayo sauce, capers leafs, seasonal leaves salad with citrus dressing. It was matched with Lanson Noble Cuvee Brut Vintage 2000 (RRP $179.99).

For the first course, we were served spaghetti spanner crab with fresh organic tomato, chilli and herb flavoured breadcrumbs. It was served with Lanson Extra Age Brut NV (RRP $104.99).

For the main course, we ate 12 hour, slow cooked beef short ribs with whisky and dark chocolate jus, and radicchio in agrodolce almonds sliced. It was matched with Lanson Gold Label Brut Vintage 2005 (RRP $72.99).

For dessert, we had home made pastry tart with chestnut mousse, wild berry coulis and caramel threads. The last drink was Lanson Rose Label Brut Rose NV (RRP $67.99).

The food was amazing and the champagne was equally good. My favourite champagne for the night was the Lanson Extra Age Brut NV, followed by the Lanson Rose Label Brut Rose NV. But my opinion could be biased, because I tend to prefer pink champagne.


And now I would like to share some tips on storing and serving champagne that I learnt on the night:

  • Never freeze your champagne, the bottle could explode
  • Do not keep your bottle in the door of the refrigerator: every time you open the fridge you disturb the champagne
  • Cool champagne by plunging the bottle into a bucket of ice for 30 minutes or lay the bottle down in the bottom of the refrigerator for four hours
  • Store champagne in low constant temperature (around 10 degrees celsius) away from light, noise, vibrations and draughts for four hours
  • The ideal temperature for enjoying and serving champagne is between 8 to 10 degrees celsius
  • Avoid serving champagne in a cold glass, you could compromise the bubbles
  • Avoid using a dishwasher which may hinder bubble formation
  • Champagne should be enjoyed in tulip shaped glasses that are tall enough to give the bubbles room to move

Champagne Lanson is available from Dan Murphys, BWS and other select retailers.

For more information on Champagne Lanson, visit: http://www.lanson.com/en/

Grant’s Triple Wood Relaunches

Grant’s, the number two selling whisky in Australia, relaunched its signature Grant’s whisky by repackaging it and renaming it, Grant’s Triple Wood, at an event on Thursday, 11 October 2018.

The new name communicates its unique whisky making process of maturing its’ whisky in three distinct casks: Virgin Oak, American Oak, and Refill Bourbon. The triple wood gives it a smooth, rich and mellow taste. 


The brand Ambassador, Justin Strzadala, explained that Australian’s love Scotch whisky but they have a bias towards single malts because they perceive them as better quality. However, that is not necessarily true. The process of blending a Scotch whisky is very complex and time consuming to ensure consistency of blend. It is a lot of work to blend a variety of whiskies to create a consistent flavour at the volumes needed to meet market demand, and then age them for a minimum of three years. Further, the flavour profile of a blended Scotch whisky can be a very complex experience with multiple layers of flavour and mouth feel, which is the result of each particular production process. This makes blended whiskies more complex than single malts. You also may not know that the history of whisky all started with blended Scotch whisky. Single malts were only actively promoted from 1963.

William Grant & Sons Holdings Pty Ltd is an independent, family owned distiller and was founded by William Grant in 1887. Grant’s is the oldest continuously family run blended whisky distillery. It is the only blended whisky producer to have its own Stillman Cooper and Master Blender working together under the one roof.

If I was reviewing the food at this event, I would give it high marks, not only for its quality but also for the way it was matched perfectly to the cocktails. But this event was not about the food.


Instead, I will discuss the whisky cocktails we got to try, which were all popular crowd pleasers (except for the last one which I had not heard of) and are designed to introduce novices to whisky, and are not for whisky connoisseurs who prefer to drink whisky neat, or with some water.  As more of a novice, it worked for me. Those cocktails tasted better than ones I had tasted elsewhere, although one popular blogger did confide in me that she found them a bit too sweet, and they had to wait for the ice to melt a bit for her to drink them.

The cocktails consisted of:

– Grant’s Triple Wood Espresso Martini (30ml Grant’s Triple Wood, 30ml Tia Maria and 30ml demarera sugar syrup)

– Grant’s Triple Wood Sweet and Sour (60ml Grant’s Triple Wood, 30ml lemon juice, 1tsp orange marmalade, one egg white and one drop orange bitters)

– Grant’s Triple Wood Maple Old Fashioned (60ml Grants Triple Wood, 15ml Maple Syrup and three drops of aromatic bitters)

– Grant’s Triple Wood Tall Treacle (60ml Grant’s Triple Wood, 100ml cloudy apple juice, 15ml sugar syrup and three drops of aromatic bitters)


So whatever preconceptions you may have Scotch whisky, Grant’s Triple Wood is a good whisky (in cocktails and drunk neat) despite it being blended and less expensive.

For more information about Grant’s Triple Wood, go to: https://www.grantswhisky.com/en/

The Greek Film Festival launches with the firm, The Last Note

Filmmaker Pantelis Voulgaris’ heart-rending drama, The Last Note, kicked off the 12 day Festival (October 9 – 21, 2018) at Palace Cinemas, Norton Street on Tuesday 9 October, 2018.

Celebrating its 25th year, The Greek Film Festival is Australia’s oldest and largest film festival, bringing the best Greek films to cinema lovers in Sydney, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne (the latter of which has opening night attendees exceeding 1200). Running for almost three weeks, it offers a stellar programme of Greek films from young independent film makers to award winning directors.

The Greek Film Festival features some of the most iconic dramas, thrillers and comedies Greece has to offer. Greek films reflect Greek consciousness and give audiences an insight into the Greek political climate of today and yesteryear.

The opening night film tells the true story of the execution of 200 Greek political prisoners from Chaidari concentration camp by the Nazi Germans on May 1st, 1944 in Kaisariani, as reprisal for the Greek Resistance ambush against four Nazi soldiers. It stars Andreas Konstantinou (Best Actor at the 2018 Hellenic Film Academy Awards) who plays the 34-year-old political prisoner, Napoleon Sukatzidis, who acted as an interpreter to the German commander, Karl Fischer (André Hennicke) during the occupation. Greek-American actress Melia Kreiling (Guardians of the Galaxy) plays the female lead role of Andreas’ girlfriend.

The film portrays the futility of war and the dignity of the men who faced their death. It has exemplary cinematography, a fascinating music score, underpinned with solid acting. The pace was slow in the first half, and some scenes were a little clichéd and cheesy. At times I felt like the atmosphere mimicked a Hollywood war movie, but overall I was impressed with how beautifully it was filmed.

For more information about other films showing as part of the Greek Film Festival, head to the official website of the Greek Film Festival: http://greekfilmfestival.com.au/

Tickets to films are on sale via www.palacecinemas.com.au or on 02 9361 5398.

Whirly Bird celebrates their 1st birthday

Sydney’s social set descended on Whirly Bird, a chicken and liquor venue located in Pyrmont, to celebrate their first birthday on Thursday 27 September 2018.


Whirly Bird is a pub cum chicken restaurant, located in Pyrmont, that serves the popular buttermilk fried chicken (paired with either chilli and honey caramel or house-made smoky BBQ sauce) and a variety of poultry dishes such as their rotisserie spit roast birds (available in quarter, half or whole), shredded chicken banh mi, burgers and even a chicken salad bowl. There are a number of vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu including salt and pepper silken tofu with spring onions, ginger and ponzu and a vegan power bowl, and vegetable starters such as duck fat roasted carrots, celery-battered jalapeno poppers and kimchi slaw. The menu is designed for sharing with small plates, bar snacks and larger offerings.


The bar menu consists of a vast selection of quality beers, an extensive wine list, and a variety of spirits, liquors and classically inspired cocktails. The bar’s wall is decked out with classic vinyl records and the cocktail list is inspired by musical legends.


At the event, guests washed down the poultry canapes with champagne, wine, beer and cocktails that were made by The Rook’s former bartenders Rollo Anderson and Liam Doherty-Penzer.

Live jazz band, The Low Down Riders, supplied the tunes for the night before a special performance from the Burlesque girls who bring the glamour of the 1920s to Pyrmont every Saturday night with feathers, sequins and razzle dazzle. The final act, which is part of the Birdcage Sydney, included a girl performing a feather fan dance and swirled around in a champagne glass while removing items of clothing!


Whirly Bird is a great place for a casual feast or a few drinks with friends. The open plan venue is split into multiple areas, with a total seated capacity of 150. The 80-seater dining room includes a 12-person private dining area, as well as a bar, lounge and outdoor areas.

It is open from Monday to Wednesday 12pm-12am, Thursday to Friday from 12pm – 1am, Saturday 3pm to 1am and Sunday 3pm to 12am.

Whirly Bird is located at 84 Union Street Pyrmont.

For more information about Whirly Bird, go to www. whirlybirdsydney.com.au